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The Price of Victory

As a former high school coach, I am aware of the price of victory.  The temptation to win at all costs can leave a trail of corruption in its wake.  As a cross country coach, I took runners to compete in nationals three straight seasons.  The best any of my runnes finished was 25th, not bad for a Christian school in Delaware, following the rules set by the state.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! – 1 Corinthians 9:24

Unforunately, my former school made national headlines, banned from competing in the state tournament in football after our team got too good, too fast.  Since I wasn’t one of the coaches, I don’t know what rules were glanced over or stretched to the limit.  Yet, an asured state title was denied, leaving players disapointed and heart broken.  However, there is a silver lining as Red Lion’s program has produced three current NFL players with a potential for 1 first round pick in the 2019 draft class.

Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing], 1 Corinthians 9:25-26.

Eariler this week, Urban Meyer, head football coach of Ohio State University was placed on administrative leave for failing to report an incident of domestic abuse by one of his assistant coaches.  A three time national champion coach with Florida and Ohio State, Meyer has developed a reputation for building programs the right way.  Yet, recent reports have disclosed that Urban took chances on players with questionable character.  The only way to reign in these players was with domineering and hard nosed coaches.

But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service], 1 Corinthians 9:27.

As a former resident of Ohio, news of Meyer’s demise is sad.  However, maybe Urban’s decision to make winning a greater priority than integrity will serve as a wakeup call for current coaches thinking about cutting corners.  The apostle Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth about the Corinthian Games, the Olympics of the first century.  Paul warns his audience about the price of winning.  If only one can be the champion, compete in such a way as to win the respect of your fellow competitors.  May these words encourage future coaches to focus on character rather than wins and loses.

by Jay Mankus

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